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Burton v. Florida
Florida District Court of Appeal
49 So. 3d 263 (2010)
The Florida attorney general (plaintiff) filed a petition to compel Samantha Burton (defendant) to comply with her physician’s instructions for the health of her unborn baby. The physician had recommended bed rest, medication to postpone labor and to treat infection, and an eventual cesarean section, all of which Burton refused. The attorney general relied on In re Dubreuil, 629 So. 2d 819 (1993), to file suit, which granted him the authority to pursue legal action if a patient has refused medical treatment and there is a sufficient state interest involved. The trial court concluded that because Burton refused to follow her doctor’s recommendations, there was a substantial and unacceptable risk of injury or death to the unborn child. The trial court granted the motion to compel on the ground that the state’s interest in the child’s welfare overrode Burton’s privacy interests because the Florida Supreme Court previously held that the welfare of the child is controlling over the welfare of the parent. The matter was appealed, and the district court exercised its authority to address the appeal on the ground that there was no Florida precedent for compelling a woman to undergo medical treatment against her wishes for the health of the fetus.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Clark, J.)
Dissent (Berger, J.)
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